Would Paying Politicians More Attract Better Politicians?
Whenever you look at a political system and find it wanting, one tempting thought is this: Maybe we have subpar politicians because the job simply isn’t attracting the right people. And, therefore, if we were to significantly raise politicians’ salaries, we would attract a better class of politician.
This is an unpopular argument for various reasons, in part because it would be the politicians themselves who have to lobby for higher salaries, and that isn’t politically feasible (especially in a poor economy). Can you imagine the headlines?
But the idea remains attractive, doesn’t it? The idea is that, by raising the salaries of elected and other government officials, you would a) signal the true importance of the job; b) attract a kind of competent person who might otherwise enter a more remunerative field; c) allow politicians to focus more on the task at hand rather than worry about their income; and d) make politicians less susceptible to the influence of moneyed interests.